Partnering with 23andMe for a Population Health Initiative

Renown Health’s recent partnership with 23andMe and the Desert Research Institute has been an astounding success. Just little over a month ago we announced the program which offered free personalized health and ancestry information to over 5,000 Northern Nevadans. We expected it would take two days to get that many people to sign up. You can imagine our surprise when the day after the launch of the event, all 5,000 slots has been filled up! So we decided to open up another 5,000 slots, which filled almost equally as fast.

Some reasons to which the success of this event could be owed would be the cost (it’s one hundred percent free for participants), the perks of genetic analysis (it’s something that many people are curious about, but would not think of paying for), and the simplicity of our system (all that is required is that participants show up, watch an informational video about the project, sign some forms, and spit into a tube). There’s also the additional incentive of knowing that those who participate are contributing to the overall benefit of the Nevada community.

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via Renown Health

Through our work with 23andMe, Renown Health now has access to over 10,000 samples of genetic analysis. By combining this data with our data on the medical histories of over 300,000 people, we will have a better overall picture of the health of those in Northern Nevada. The Desert Research Institute will draw even more insights out of this data by looking at it in conjunction with a number of social and environmental figures. The overall goal of all of this data-crunching is to figure out how different environmental, demographic, and environment factors interact. Once we have a better idea of this, we will be able to better allocate resources to those who need them most and may even be able to stop illness before it happens.

This data-gathering, data analysis, data sharing, and all around cross-organization collaboration truly epitomizes what population health can become. I’m very proud of everyone who has been involved in this initiative–from the participants, to the researchers, to the countless administrative workers who have made this possible. Additionally, this project would not be possible without the generous support of Governor Brian Sandoval and the rest of the government of Nevada.

I’m also taken aback at how warmly the community has received this project. For instance, KUNR gave Joe Grzymski of 23andMe a great interview and the Reno Gazette-Journal has provided us with some glowing press. We’re taking steps toward the future of medicine.

Mark Behl